Aging Well

     In 1961 Patsy Cline recorded and released a song called, "Crazy," one of the most iconic country songs of all time. The writer of that song was a twenty-eight year old singer-songwriter who was relatively unknown at the time. His name was Willie Nelson, and the popularity of "Crazy" turned out to be just the beginning of a legendary musical career. Now, fifty-six years later, at the age of eighty-four, Willie is still writing and recording music. This past week he released a new album entitled, “God’s Problem Child,” his first album of all original material in several years. Aging has sharpened his focus, and so on this album he writes about this issues everyone faces as they grow older —mortality, forgiveness, vulnerability, and spirituality.

Let’s not take my word on all of this, let’s take Willie’s instead. In one of the more moving songs on this album,“I Made a Mistake,” he writes about needing forgiveness:

I made a mistake Lord, I thought I was wrong

I made a mistake Lord, And it’s all on me

I wouldn’t admit it, But it’s easy to see

So if anyone’s praying, A request I would make

Is to mention my name, ‘cause I made a mistake

One of the hardest parts of growing older is the inevitable loss of loved ones and close friends. Willie’s dear friend and fellow country outlaw singer Merle Haggard died last year and Willie writes of his grief with words that any of us who have lost a dear friend can relate to:

Got the news this morning, and it would be a tough day

Someone’s so much larger than life, I can't believe he could pass away

When it comes to country music he’s the world

And it wouldn't be all it is without his word

And he won’t ever be gone, his songs live on

There is a beautiful video of Willie singing this song, you can find Here

All of the themes of this album are summed up in the title track, “God's Problem Child,”

I did the best I could do, but the best I could tell

The higher I flew, the farther I fell

Born in the mud, raised in the wild

Washed in the blood, God's problem child

I feel the shine, following me

Nor far behind, that’s where I wanna be

A little out of time, fine by me

Darkness may fall, we still got a light

Keeping us all, safe through the night

Heaven must love, God's problem child

As you can see, this is a serious album. If you know Willie, though, you know he likes to have fun, and so this record contains some wonderful moments of humor, too. For example, in the song, “Still Not Dead” he addresses the numerous internet rumors that have circulated in recent years supposedly reporting his death:

I woke up still not dead today

The news said I was gone to my dismay

Don’t bury me, I’ve got a show to play

And I woke up still not dead today

You and I may not be famous singer-songwriters, but for all of us, aging well will mean at some point being able to address the themes of mortality, forgiveness, vulnerability, and spirituality in our lives. I am grateful for Willie Nelson for giving us an example of how it can be done, albeit with a touch of humor and grace mixed in for good measure.